Document Type

Honors Thesis


A widely acknowledged transition-to-practice gap exists for new graduate nurses (NGNs) as they begin working as Registered Nurses. To facilitate their entry into practice, hospitals offer training programs to help NGNs gain knowledge and experience. Once these programs are completed, NGNs begin working independently. NGNs in early independent practice describe high levels of work-related stress and anxiety, but little is known about the ongoing transition encountered by NGNs with nine to ten months of experience. This is important because NGNs who do not successfully navigate the transition to professional practice are at risk for costly job turnover. This qualitative phenomenological research study explores the perspectives of 16 new graduate nurses (NGNs) with 9-10 months of nursing practice on their experiences in transition to practice programs. The purpose of this study was to describe the perspectives of NGNs with 9-10 months’ experience on this stage of transition to professional nursing practice. By investigating the personal experiences of NGNs in the acute care setting, researchers hope to use NGNs’ accounts to improve upon nursing education and better support them in role transition. Four major themes emerged from this study: well on my way, finding my family, good days/bad days, and in recovery… moving forward. NGNs reported improving confidence levels and organizational skills but continue to experience challenges navigating work-based relationships and acclimating to the demands of nursing. Continued support from peers, experienced colleagues, and nursing leaders is essential to transitioning NGN’s in order to provide safe high-quality care. NGNs “good days” have begun to surpass their “bad days” as they start to view new learning experiences with excitement instead of fear, develop improved coping mechanisms to help them leave their job in the workplace, and finally adjust to the physical, mental, and emotional demands of nursing practice. They feel a great amount of relief as they begin to recover from the initial fast-paced transitory phase and express a new sense of stability in life as they are beginning to successfully balance and separate their role in their workplace from their personal lives. The findings of this study were shared with participants who provided feedback regarding the findings of the research. Limitations, recommendations for practice, and further research opportunities were discussed.

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